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Environ Microbiol. 2017 Apr;19(4):1463-1475. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13665. Epub 2017 Mar 8.

Symbiotic bacteria associated with a bobtail squid reproductive system are detectable in the environment, and stable in the host and developing eggs.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, CT 06269, USA.

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Female Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, have an accessory nidamental gland (ANG) housing a bacterial consortium that is hypothesized to be environmentally transmitted and to function in the protection of eggs from fouling and infection. The composition, stability, and variability of the ANG and egg jelly coat (JC) communities were characterized and compared to the bacterial community composition of the surrounding environment using Illumina sequencing and transmission electron microscopy. The ANG bacterial community was conserved throughout hosts collected from the wild and was not affected by maintaining animals in the laboratory. The core symbiotic community was composed of Alphaproteobacteria and Opitutae (a class of Verrucomicrobia). Operational taxonomic units representing 94.5% of the average ANG abundance were found in either the seawater or sediment, which is consistent with the hypothesis of environmental transmission between generations. The bacterial composition of the JC was stable during development and mirrored that of the ANG. Bacterial communities from individual egg clutches also grouped with the ANG of the female that produced them. Collectively, these data suggest a conserved role of the ANG/JC community in host reproduction. Future directions will focus on determining the function of this symbiotic community, and how it may change during ANG development.

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